How Good are the Seahawks on the Road?

Nov 3, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll walks the sidelines against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In what looked like a marquee NFC game going into this season, the Seahawks will travel to Atlanta on Sunday to face the hapless 2-6 Falcons. The most important obstacle in that sentence may be the travel rather than the Falcons themselves. Making trips to the South Eastern corner of the country is not fun for the Seahawks, although they pulled out a tough win at Carolina in Week One. This game will be the 6th road game of the season which is good news because it points to a favorable schedule down the stretch (although the trip to San Francisco still looms overhead). As the Seahawks are on the verge of embarking on one of the longest possible road trips in the NFL it seems like as good a time as any to evaluate where they are as a road team.

The Seahawks currently are sporting a 4-1 record on the road and may well be on the way to their best road season in franchise history. They may be on the way to their best overall season in history so I suppose that shouldn’t come as an immense surprise, but it’s still significant. In the last two years this team has gone from one that consistently loses on the road to one that guts out tough wins in hostile stadiums. The easiest way to improve in that way is to have a really good team, something that the Seahawks have, but it also seems that this team is less phased by venturing out of the CLink than previous iterations. Below is a chart showing how the Seahawks play on the road compared to how they play at home this season. Keep in mind that the quality of the opposition is a factor. On the road the Seahawks have played two good teams (The Colts and the Panthers) one average one (Arizona) and two lousy ones (Houston & St. Louis). At home they have played one tough opponent (San Francisco), one OK opponent (Tennessee) and two lousy teams (Tampa Bay and Jacksonville). Given that very unscientific classification system one would expect worse numbers on the road even if there was no difference between playing in Seattle or elsewhere. However, quality of opponent does not account for the following discrepancy between the road and home numbers:

Location Total Yards/G Passing Yards/G Rushing Yards/G Points/G Total Yards Against/G Passing Yards Against/G Rushing Yards Against/G Points Against/G
Home

397.0

227.8

169.2

30.3

261.3

155.8

105.5

14.3

Road

308.4

179.2

129.2

22.2

323.8

199.0

124.8

18.4

 

As expected this is a team that dominates at home (except last week) and does just enough on the road.

The Seahawks have come a long way as a road team under Pete Carroll. They have not reached the point where they can dominate on the road the way they do at home, but few teams can. Additionally, the remoteness of Seattle’s location in the context of where NFL franchises are located will always lead to massive travelling distances which are likely to exaggerate the splits here. I would be remiss not to acknowledge the 12th man as a factor here as well, especially on defense. The Seahawks may not be world beaters on the road just yet, but they’ve come a long way. They are now a pretty good team outside their building, if not a fantastic one, which is an achievement for this franchise. It’s a bit sad that being OK on the road puts you in a position to break franchise records there, but that’s where we sit right now. More than anything these numbers make me look forward to the four home contests in the last six games this year. When you include the return of Seattle’s offensive tackles and Percy Harvin it’s shaping up to be a strong finish.

 

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